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COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on communities in and around Chicago. On November 13th, almost eleven months since the novel coronavirus landed in the United States, the City of Chicago reported a record one-day jump of at least 15,223 new cases, according to the New York Times.
A further 14,815 Chicagoans tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on November 19th, according to daily case publication by John Hopkins Hospital, up by nearly 40 percent from a day earlier and compared with 1,316 on September 20th.
According to the city’s official website, the total number of cases in Chicago now stands at 150,702, with a 7-day rolling average positivity rate that’s slightly shy of 13 percent, and a total of 3,301 deaths.
That means the number of reported new coronavirus cases has more than doubled only two weeks into the month of November, and this could get even worse as we gear towards Thanksgiving weekend festivities. The city and CDC officials have already urged residents not to travel for the holiday, but it seems people have developed “COVID fatigue.”
Despite being advised to stay at home for Thanksgiving amid a spike in new infections, residents are still flocking to Chicago airports. In fact, O’Hare International Airport was among the biggest airports that saw more than 2 million Thanksgiving travelers pass through their security checkpoints across the US.
It’s not just the number of new cases that’s on an upward trajectory. Recent COVID-19 stats show that while positivity rates are starting to fall across the state of Illinois, hospitalizations and deaths are, unfortunately, up in Chicago.
Of the 102 counties in the Land of Lincoln, only one is still at a ‘warning level’ for COVID-19 infection risk. Nonetheless, Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced a round of new restrictions (collectively called Tier 3 Mitigation) that will take effect across the state, including in the City of Chicago.
State officials are also scrambling to make sure that all measures imposed by Tier 3 mitigation are tightly in place after it went into effect recently. These mitigation measures are poised to help curb rising Covid-19 new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths across the state, but more importantly in the Windy City.
Termed the ‘superspreaders’ in the spring pandemic, restaurants in Chicago have already resumed limited outdoor seated dining. The same could also be said of gyms, cafes, hotels, and shopping malls.
At the end of October, Gov. J.B. Pritzker instituted a ban on all café service and indoor restaurant dining in the city of Chicago. At the same time, no more than 25 people would gather at once, while bars were required to close by 11 p.m.
Some of these measures were further tightened under Tier 3 mitigations, which forced multiple sites, spaces, and businesses to shut down, including museums and casinos, amongst others. Salons, gyms, and other businesses deemed non-essential will also face new limitations under Tier 3 Resurgence mitigations.
The state and the City have further capped indoor social gatherings to no more than one household, while outdoor gatherings are now restricted to fewer than 10 people.
This comes at a time when coronavirus related hospitalizations are averaging more than double as it was in October. The positivity rate in the City of Chicago has also almost tripled in the past two months.
The raging coronavirus pandemic has certainly had an immense impact on the economy of Chicago as mitigation measures forced movement restrictions, drop in consumer spending, and business closures. It has also led to an unprecedented number of local business permanent shutdowns and rampant unemployment.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread losses in employment, people continue to go online to play virtual casino games and place sports wagers. And this trend is also being seen in Chicago and the rest of Illinois six months after the state legalized online sports wagering.
Initial data released recently by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) reveal that the bettors across the state wagered a whopping $305 million on sports markets in September alone, up from $139.8 million the previous month. The sports betting handle has increased by more than twice in the last six or so months, keeping up with betting revenues collected in the respective months.
There are several reasons that might help explain this unusual surge in sports betting and online casino gambling in Illinois. First of all, the return of major league sports to the small and big screens has boosted not only the sports betting handle but also the interesting Illinois-facing gambling sites.
September marked the return of the NFL, followed by MLB, MLS, NBA, and the National Hockey League (NHL). Although we are yet to see the return of college football and other amateur sports that have long been the staple of the US sports wagering market, there’s enough betting action to bring Illinois gamblers out of COVID hibernation.
The unprecedented growth of mobile wagering is also partly responsible for the increase in online gambling in Illinois. Did you know that as much as 93 percent of sports betting handle in the Land of Lincoln comes from mobile bettors? Visit WSN.com to stay up to date on the latest development in the online sports betting world.
The ongoing mitigation that has suspended in-person betting and registration during the COVID-19 crisis has helped fuel mobile wagering. For example, BetRivers – one of the leading sports betting licensees in Illinois – has already released a mobile betting application (BetRivers Illinois Sportsbook) and it has become an instant hit with gamblers. Accordingly, Rush Street Interactive’s sports wagering operator pulled in $112.6m in September alone, representing close to 40 percent total market share.
Loyalty and welcome casino bonuses have also played a crucial role in the rapid growth of online gambling during the coronavirus pandemic. Online sportsbooks and casinos entice new customers with free spins, no-deposit bonuses, and free money to enjoy their games on the house.
The best part is that you can out your winnings quickly and safely if you win. For some bonuses, you may be expected to fund your wagering wallet before cashing out your profits.